Catching up!

*We are up to Wednesday, and it's still Thursday! YESSSSS.

*My father took me aside the day I moved away from home.

"Jog," he said, "One thing I'm sure of in this life is that nobody can have enough Seven Soldiers, and you can take that to the bank." I did, and that's how I got my beloved check card.

But Dad was also right about Seven Soldiers, which is why I must link to Andrew Hickey, who's putting out a whole series of posts on Grant Morrison's DCU exploits. First up is a look at 'gravity' in the extended Seven Soldiers saga, a motif I never quite picked up on. Go look.

*Here's a nice deal for easygoing '80s anime enthusiasts and Naoki Urasawa die-hards alike: the first four episodes of the 1989-92 television anime series Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl, based on Urasawa's first-ever monster hit manga, on dvd from AnimeEigo for only $5.00 (to cover shipping). Or free, if you buy something else. In subtitled Japanese only, with extensive cultural notes as a bonus. Again: five bucks.

I guess you can call it a 'sampler,' even though it's the size of many full-scale anime dvd volumes, since AnimEigo isn't planning to actually release the series disc-by-disc. It is 124 episodes long, after all. Rather, the publisher is accepting pre-orders for a 40-episode Season 1 box set, the price of which will be determined later as based on how many pre-orders there actually are. It's due to ship in early 2008, although it might make Christmas of this year.

The four episodes on the sampler disc are pretty good stuff. Very light, mixing comedic action with fluffy romance antics, much in the manner of its television peer, Ranma 1/2. But there's no fantasy in Yawara!, even though its young heroine is a fighting expert. She's pushed by her wacky Judo master grandpa to become the greatest in the world, in anticipation of Women's Judo debuting as a medal sport at the 1992 Summer Olympics - interestingly, the series seems to progress in quasi-realtime, with a counter appearing at the end of each episode to tick off the days left until the (actual) Barcelona competition. There's many complications, of course, since Our Heroine wants to be a normal teenager.

It's the sort of generous, crowd-pleasing show that can't even bring itself to make the villains (thus far) seem all that bad; a womanizing rival Judo coach actually comes off as somewhat endearing, and the obligatory haughty rich girl rival is given just enough dimension to keep her interesting. There's not enough space on the disc for the famous Urasawa build to take hold (if, indeed, it ever does, this being an adaptation of an early work), which perhaps works to the advantage of such unabashed formula, polished as it is. Oddly melancholic closing credits too, maybe suggestive of a greater emphasis on drama later on.

Certainly worth a $5 gamble - those who enjoy this period of mainstream television anime will probably be most pleased, but it's a cute enough show for a wider bunch.